Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Food for Thought
I always find it difficult to decide on what food to take on a trip. Breakfast and snacks are easy it's the main meal that always gets me. I've tried shop bought instant pasta packets (Pasta in a Cup) with pre cooked sausage and some cheese added to spice it up but it tends to taste a bit artificial, I've tried dehydrating my own meals using a Westfalia Dehydrator which only cost £26.99 but haven't had a great deal of success there either, the dehydrator works just fine but the meals seem to lose some of the flavour during dehydration, in fact one of the supposed benefits of Freeze Dried meals over dehydrated is that they don't loose flavour. I also find that home dehydrated meals don't rehydrate properly in a cozy, I imagine they'd be better re hydrated directly in the cooking pot but that increases the amount of fuel that I'd need to carry. Of course maybe I'm doing it wrong but I'm beginning to think the whole home dehydrating thing is a bit over-rated or at least some of the issues are glossed over. Again if I'm wrong I'd welcome any advice that would help me avoid the pitfalls.
I've tried commercially available Dried Meals, (Mountain House/Real Turmat/Reiter) and to be honest they're fine once you figure out which ones you like and I've also tried Wayfarer meals.
I recently discovered (thanks to Outdoors Magic) pre cooked meals called 'Look What We Found' These are similar to Wayfarers in that they're already cooked and come in a foil pouch which simply needs re-heating by placing the pouch in a pot of water and bringing to the boil, obviously at 300g they're twice the weight of a dried meal but they don't require you to add water so you save a bit of weight there. These are very nice indeed but due to the type of stove I use and the size of the cooking pot they're right on the limit size wise, the other problem is that they come in a printed pouch with a self adhesive label which makes the water used to heat them unusable for any other purpose. Now there are various ways around the problem, I could empty the contents into a plain boil proof bag and use the water for a brew or empty them into the pot and re-heat them directly but then I'd need to use water to clean the pot prior to making a brew and I'd be using 2 x the amount of fuel, once fill to heat the meal, another to make a brew. They were tasty though and I was determined to carry 1 LWWF for every dried meal alternating between them but when I checked the energy value (Kcal) they're about half what a Reiter or Real Turmat is. I think that's going to rule them out to be honest, I don't want to carry 2 x the weight per meal, use 2 x the amount of fuel, 2 x the amount of water and after all that get half the kcal value.
I like to make up day packs which weigh about 750-850g each. Breakfast consists of 165g Muesli/Extra Fruit/Whitener/Sugar, snacks consist simply of cereal bars/chocolate bars/Cuppa Soup x 2/Instant Drinks x 2 to be used between breakfast/main meal/breakfast. I make my desserts from half packets of Birds Instant Custard/Semolina in a ziplok bag with dehydrated fruit added. I don't drink tea, only coffee so I carry 3 x 250ml Nalgene bottles with coffee, sugar & Whitener. In addition I keep a pouch of grated Parmesan and some sachets of salt/pepper.
Of course meal packs are always a work in progress so who knows where i go from here. With all the items for one day set out it doesn't look like much but so far it seems to be enough.
1 Day Ration Pack, Main Meal not Included
L to R,
Real Turmat, Beef/Potato Casserole, 145g/585Kcal
LWWF, Beef in Black Velvet Porter with Potatoes, 308g/201Kcal
Reiter Travel Lunch, Hungarian Beef & Noodles, 142g/483Kcal
I've just seen Hendrik Morkels post on his Blog, 'Hiking in Finland' with the same title as my post here so I'm adding a link (Hendrik has also kindly provided the link in the comments section)
Hiking Finland, Hendrik Morkel 'Food (for Thought)'
I found some more information regarding Dehydrating on Andy Howells site so I'll post a link.
Andy Howell, Dehydrating